If you look for a list of workspaces and professions with the most workplace injuries, you are unlikely to see jobs like account manager or sales representative make the list. These jobs are frequently done at an office and behind a desk. A seemingly safe workspace compared to construction sites and factory floors. Yet, there are several common injuries that still afflict traditional offices in NJ.
Similar to other workplaces in NJ, a substantial number of common injuries in the office can be easily avoided through training and proper procedure. A separate handful of office injuries are more difficult to tackle because these common injuries are inherent to the work and design of an office. What are the most common injuries in NJ offices and how can you avoid them? Read this post to find out.
#1: Ergonomic Injuries From Sitting and Typing
While the work in your office might not be monotonous, it is very likely your posture and position for completing this work is. Ergonomic injuries, also called repetitive stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries, or cumulative trauma injuries, are incredibly common in NJ offices. In fact, these musculoskeletal issues are the most common injuries in offices. Just as concerning, most people ignore the signs and symptoms of these injuries for a long time.
The risk factors for ergonomic injuries include awkward posture or sitting positions, continuous strain or stress on the neck, back, and shoulders from looking up or down at a screen, and extended periods of sitting. All of these risk factors occur in today’s offices. To combat some of these common injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided specific guidelines. OSHA’s suggestions include proper positioning of the keyboard, screen, and chair height, maintaining a straight posture, bend elbows 90 degrees when typing, and take regular breaks.
#2: Respiratory Disorders and Asthma
In recent years, air quality in offices has become a more frequent topic of discussion. The reason for addressing poor air quality is based on the substantial number of common injuries that can come from inadequate ventilation or presence of a harmful substance in the air. The concern over potential respiratory disorders, such as asthma, is warranted. Not only can these illnesses substantially impact an individual’s quality of life, but are often a life-long condition that becomes very expensive for workers’ compensation insurance.
If your office isn’t taking appropriate steps to address air quality, you can push management in the right direction. Proper maintenance of HVAC systems, cleaning of ventilation systems, and regular cleaning of the office are all simple ways to reduce respiratory disorders. As well, if air quality is suspected as an issue in your office or you’ve noticed difficulty breathing, then conducting an air assessment can uncover the issue.
#3: Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls are a cause of common injuries in all workspaces but are particularly prevalent in offices. According to the Center for Disease Control, office workers are two times more likely to suffer a slip, trip, or fall than a non-office worker.
What can explain this surprising difference in the number of these injuries? In part, offices are actually filled with hazards. There are cords and wires needed for any electronic device, cubicles are often crowded and hallways narrow, and office kitchens the scene of many spills that aren’t immediately cleaned up. These hazards would likely to lead to many injuries on their own, but the number of slips, trips, and falls is exacerbated by the fact most office employees are caught off guard by any hazard.
As we said at the onset, offices are often considered incredibly safe work environments; employees hardly expect there to be any common injuries in their office. This causes many employees to drop their vigilance and not notice the hazards located throughout their workplace.
#4: Lifting Injuries
Physical labor isn’t a part of most job descriptions for accountants, consultants, and digital marketers, which makes injuries from lifting and moving objects an unsuspected cause of office injuries. Transferring materials between office locations, moving printers, carrying office supplies, restocking paper trays, and other daily tasks lead to bad technique and dangerous lifting habits. Even if these injuries are solely the fault of an employee, for failing to recognize the weight of materials or exhibiting poor lifting technique, the resulting injuries are still covered by New Jersey workers’ compensation.
What to Do After an Office Injury?
At the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone, we advocate for taking immediate action after an accident or discovery of a workplace injury. Whether your injury or disorder developed over time, such as a respiratory illness, or was instantaneous, for example, lifting a heavy object, you need to report it. Then, you should seek appropriate medical treatment. Finally, you should pursue the worker’s compensation benefits you deserve.
To learn more about starting a workers’ compensation claim or how to discuss the process with your employer, contact our team at the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone.